The Latest: Montana argues to keep rape case records sealed
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — An attorney for Montana’s university system says the release of records about a rape case to “Into the Wild” author Jon Krakauer could prevent other students from coming forward as witnesses in the future disciplinary proceedings.
Attorney Viv Hammill made her argument Wednesday before the Montana Supreme Court, which met in a packed auditorium at Montana State University in Bozeman.
Hammill says it is important to keep student disciplinary proceedings confidential because students might not come forward if they believe they risk being publicly identified.
Krakauer is seeking records that explain how a University of Montana decision to expel former quarterback Jordan Johnson was reversed after it reached Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian.
Johnson remained in school and was acquitted in 2012 of charges that he raped another student.
Man accused of killing wife, 2 others pleads not guilty
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A man charged with killing three people in a tiny Montana town near the Wyoming border has pleaded not guilty to three counts of deliberate homicide.
Thirty-nine-year-old Robert LeCou was arraigned Wednesday before state District Judge Blair Jones in Carbon County.
Clerk of District Court Rochelle Loyning says Jones set a $3 million bond in the case and returned LeCou to custody. She says a trial will be scheduled at a later date.
Authorities allege LeCou shot his wife, her sister and a brother-in-law on April 5 in Belfry, then fled to Washington state where he was arrested three days later.
Authorities have not speculated on a motive.
Court document show LeCou told investigators a stranger must have broken into the house he shared with the victims and shot them.
Toxic plant kills 4 cows in Yellowstone County
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Agricultural scientists are warning Montana livestock producers to be on the lookout for a slender green plant that has killed at least four cows in Yellowstone County in a one-week period.
The Great Falls Tribune reports the cows were found to have eaten lethal amounts of the toxic plant known as Death Camas this past week. The plant also has a significant presence in Custer County, but no livestock deaths have been attributed to it there.
Scientists say the plant, which contains a steroidal toxin called Zygacine, is highly toxic in the spring due to warmer weather and moist soils.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Death Camas is a member of the lily family and can be found growing in pastures and fields from Texas to Alaska.
National Park Service to feature Yellowstone photo on stamp
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The National Park Service is featuring a photo taken more than a decade ago of bison in Yellowstone National Park on a postage stamp to celebrate its 100th year anniversary.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the image captured by Seattle-based photographer Art Wolfe is the last to be unveiled as part of the National Park Service’s stamp project. A stamp pane including the Yellowstone photo and 15 other stamps will be previewed this week.
The stamps will be issued in June.
The Yellowstone photo features two bison basking in the early morning sun in the Lamar Valley.
Wolfe had taken the photo while documenting animals living in habitats across the world for his book entitled, “The Living Wild.”
Montana officials weigh options over troubled state facility
BOULDER, Mont. (AP) — State officials say they will seek help from the legislature to address the frustrations of Boulder residents upset over the impending closure of a residential facility for the developmentally disabled.
An advisory council convening in Boulder Wednesday morning heard a slate of proposals from the governor’s office, including the possibility of asking legislators for $500,000 for a development fund to help keep Boulder’s economy afloat. The Montana Developmental Center employs scores of the town’s residents.
The legislature last year ordered the center shuttered by 2017 after a long history of troubles, including revelations that an employee sexually assaulted a resident in 2010.
The governor’s budget director, Dan Villa, chairs the advisory council. Villa says state officials will continue to examine how best to repurpose the facility.
Supreme Court considers lowering score required to pass bar
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court is accepting public comment on a proposal to lower the score aspiring attorneys need to pass the bar exam in Montana.
The Montana Board of Bar Examiners petitioned the Supreme Court to raise the passing score by 10 points a few years ago. The change was made in 2013, partly because only a handful of states had bar exam passing scores equal to or lower than Montana’s, which was 260. The board didn’t want Montana to have the reputation as being an easy place to pass the bar.
University of Montana Law School Dean Paul Kirgis says the percentage of UM law school grads passing the bar on the first try fell from 88 percent prior to 2013 to below 70 percent. He proposed reducing the passing score to 266.